By Alex DeMarzo
Prior to the 2006 NBA draft, former commissioner David Stern instituted the one-and-done rule that many believe caused the corruption in college basketball today.
Some people think that if athletes have the ability to enter the league out of high school, they should. Others believe athletes need to stay in college for more than a year, not only to polish their game, but take advantage of a free education.
Dave Heeke, director of athletics at the University of Arizona, favors eliminating the one-and-done rule.
“Somewhere in this conversation we have lost the value of a college education,” Heeke said. “I understand that there a lot of extreme demands that come with being a student-athlete, but people all over this world clamor and want to get a degree.
“It is pretty darn powerful when you walk out of here debt-free with a degree in hand.”
Student-athletes only need to pass six credits in the fall semester of their freshman year to be eligible to play in the spring.
Ben Simmons, a Philadelphia 76ers guard, took advantage of that loophole during his one season playing at Louisiana State University. According to ESPN, his GPA was under 2.0.
Many NBA scouts believed Simmons had the talent to come to the league after his senior year of high school and be a No. 1 pick in the draft, but to be eligible he was required to play in college. He had no interest in being there.
In “One and Done,” a Showtime documentary that follows Simmons during his one season at LSU into the NBA draft, he said, “They preach education, but if I’m there for a year, I can’t get much education.”
The one-and-done rule has not only devalued the student part of student-athlete, but many believe it created a corrupt recruiting system among top tier basketball programs to snag best players they can.
Federal documents and bank records obtained by Yahoo Sports show at least 20 Division I basketball programs have participated in an underground recruiting operation with former NBA agent Andy Miller, his former associate Christian Dawkins and his agency, ASM Sports. One of the most notable programs is the University of Arizona.
At least 25 current and retroactive athletes have been named in association with this scandal.
Heeke said he does not think the one-and-done rule is the exact cause of the corruption, but it is unfortunately a by-product of a flawed system.
This recent scandal brings back the topic of pay-to-play. The college basketball players are the most vocal about this because they generate some of the most money for the school and the NCAA.
According to CBS News, the most profitable business for the NCAA is the March Madness tournament. It earned roughly $900 million during the three week tournament in 2014.
These athletes earn a full-ride scholarship and a stipend every month for food and housing. The major issue is these additional funds are only a fraction of the money generated off their likeness for NCAA.
Business Insider calculated the average Division I basketball player is worth nearly $171,000 per year, while the 351 programs take in an average of over $4.5 million per year.
Many complications await any pay-to-play plan.
“There is more than men’s basketball, we have 500 student-athletes spread across multiple sports at the University of Arizona,” Heeke said. If you decide to pay athletes, he questions how programs would share equitably the money among these student-athletes who do not generate as much? “That is one thing to keep in perspective,” Heeke said.
Revenue generated from high-profile sports such as basketball and football goes back into the athletic department, and it essentially funds all other campus sports.
Heeke is against the idea of paying athletes because it would go against amateurism and would turn college athletics into a professionalized system, he said.
Critics and researchers of one-and-done would like to see it structured where athletes can be drafted straight out of high school, but if they choose to go to a four-year college, they must stay for at least three years or at least 21 years of age — just like the eligibility rule for the MLB.
“I think we should allow incoming perspective student-athletes, in the sport of basketball, as we do in baseball, the opportunity to retain certified and sanctioned financial advisors to provide them with solid guidance,” Heeke said. “So, they can evaluate that decision to see if it is in their best interest to go to college or enter the draft.”